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(Updates with comment from Gambari in third paragraph.)
Sept. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The number of armed attacks in Sudan’s western region of Darfur has declined 70 percent in the past three years, the United Nations-African Union joint special representative, Ibrahim Gambari, said.
Gambari said a UN-African Union peacekeeping force known as Unamid, which numbers more than 17,000 troops and 4,500 police officers, has succeeded in bringing stability to the region.
“Unamid has been successful in stabilizing the situation in Darfur and pushing the peace talks forward between different parties,” Gambari told reporters today in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital.
Insurgents in Darfur took up arms in 2003, accusing President Umar al-Bashir’s government of neglecting the region. The conflict has led to the deaths of as many as 300,000 people, mainly due to illness and starvation, and forced about 2.7 million to flee their homes, according to UN estimates. The Sudanese government has put the death toll at about 10,000.
The main rebel movement in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement, boycotted the signing of a Qatar-brokered peace agreement between al-Bashir’s government and the Liberation and Justice Movement, a smaller rebel faction.
JEM leader Ibrahim Khalil returned to Darfur this month from Libya following the fall of Muammar Qaddafi, el-Taher el- Feki, chairman of JEM’s legislative council, said by phone Sept. 10 from London.
“We call JEM to join the peace process because this is not the time to unite for war, it’s the time to unite for peace,” Gambari said. “Too many people have been suffering and have been devastated.”
--Editors: Karl Maier, Paul Richardson
To contact the reporter on this story: Salma El Wardany in Khartoum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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